Thursday, 10 February 2011

Apple & Elderflower Gluten Free Granola

I love the toasting smell of baking homemade granola, almost as much as I enjoy eating it. The weather outside is quite miserable at present, overcast with strong gusty winds that play havoc with my long curly hair. The phrase ‘hedge’ and ‘backwards’ come to mind the minute I step outside these past few days. So today I decided to stay indoors and indulge in a little granola making. There is nothing like the warm toasting aroma of nuts and grains to make me feel all warm and cosy.

I’m still not allowed to try eating oats at the moment, so I had to experiment with some other gluten free grains and cereals. I was a little unsure how they would take to being toasted, but they worked perfectly and resulted in a much wider variety of flavours and textures than if I had used oats.

As I was hunting in the cupboard for some honey, I can across a jar of homemade elderflower syrup that I made last summer. It was meant to have been elderflower jelly, only it didn’t set and I ended up with syrup instead. At the time I was annoyed and stuck it in the cupboard but now I saw the perfect way of making use of it and decided to use that instead of the honey for the mix.

The millet flakes and ground linseeds are quite fine and powdery, but rather than be lost amongst the mix, the elderflower coating caused them to stick to the larger nuts and grains, giving them a fabulous knobbly nutty crunchy surface. Plus, it means there is no powdery dust lingering at the bottom as can happen with some mixes.

The aroma that wafted from the oven as the granola baked was almost intoxicating. Warm toasty nuts and grains mingled with sweet fragrant scent of the elderflower. Very summery and smoothing.

The elderflower is not immediately apparent once the granola has cooled down but as you chew a spoonful, it develops into a wonderfully subtle floral sweetness with almost honey overtones, only a little lighter and more delicate.

Brown rice flakes are not usually all that palatable eaten raw, as they can be a little chalky and tacky once wet. I often combine them with some other flakes to make porridge, but in this case they work perfectly in the granola. The toasting in the oven makes them crisp and crunchy, adding a great texture alongside the other ingredients.

Each flake, puff, nut and fruit add their own unique flavour and texture, creating one delicious and highly varied mouthful of granola. Wholesome, healthy and delicious. The perfect way to start a morning, although, I can see myself munching a handful of this at any time of day. Tray a bowlful with a little cold milk when it’s still warm from the oven – gorgeous!

Apple & Elderflower Gluten Free Granola
50g millet flakes
50g brown rice flakes
30g buckwheat puffs
25g brown rice puffs
40g corn/flax/quinoa/amaranth flakes (Nature’s Path, Mesa Sunrise brand)
35g flax/linseeds
30g pecans
30g hazelnuts
20g flaked coconut
40g dried apple rings
40g dates
2 tbsp neutral oil (I used rapeseed)
3 tbsp elderflower syrup/cordial

Preheat the oven to 170C.
Roughly chop the nuts and place them into a large bowl along with all the flakes and puffs.
Pulse the flax seeds in a small processor until crushed and broken, but do not blitz for too long or they will start to turn to mush. (You need to crack them to release their goodness as the body can’t break down their skin if left whole). Add them to the bowl.
Mix the oil and elderflower syrup together in a glass and then pour over the dry ingredients. Mix and toss everything together well, ensuring that all the ingredients are lightly coated in the syrup.
Pour the grains onto a large baking tray with sides. Shake gently to spread the mixture into an even layer and bake for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, weigh out the coconut and keep to one side. Use scissors to cut the dried apple and dates into small pieces, about the side of a hazelnut.
When the 10 minutes are up, remove the tray from the oven, scatter over the coconut and mix everything together to ensure an even browning.
Return the tray to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes more. Keep an eye on it as you don’t want the coconut to burn.
Remove the pan from the oven, scatter over the apple and dates and mix well. Leave the granola to cool on the tray before storing in an airtight container until required.
Crisp, nutty, chewy, fruity and crunchy with a subtle fragrant elderflower sweetness. Gorgeous eaten ever so slightly warm with cold milk or yoghurt.


Chele said...

Most excellent! We are enjoying making and trying as many different granola's as we can at the mo. I love the Elderflower flavour.

Suelle said...

I love elderflower flavour - this sounds a great start to the day.